The Class of 1968 saw some new developments for the OU College of Nursing. For one, the college began to see considerable growth in faculty and student numbers, a trend that continues today. That class also was the last to use the World War II-era building that had housed the nursing dorms and classroom/lab space for 20 years.
“When I came to Oklahoma City to the medical campus, I lived in the nursing dorm, which also housed all the nursing classes. The two years I lived there were the last years the building was used. During the last year, 1968, part of the building was torn down to start construction of the new dental building next door. Black construction plastic was placed over the end of the building and it was drafty,” said Linda Knight, who earned her BSN in 1968. “The great thing about our nursing dorm-classroom building was that it was at the epicenter of the medical center. Located between University Hospital and Children’s Hospital and across from the VA Hospital, it only took minutes to get to your clinical assignment. Classes were even easier since they were downstairs, and I’m sure all of us put a raincoat over our pajamas at one time or another to get to class on time.”
Knight said because most nursing students lived in the dorms together, they were a close-knit group. The close quarters made it easy to study together, borrow books and notes, and even spend free time.
“Many afternoons we would make sure to get to El Charrito before 5 p.m. to get the 99-cent special,” she added.
Because the nursing and medical students shared a library, students in the two disciplines were friends and even had parties in the Faculty House.
One of the enduring legacies of the Class of 1968 is the look of the College of Nursing pin, given to each baccalaureate student to mark the passage from a student nurse role to a professional role. Knight said her class decided that the College needed a new pin, that the look of theirs was outdated. The design they conceived is still worn today.
“I vividly remember that some of my classmates pushed me into a leadership role that probably influenced the many leadership positions I have enjoyed since. As the Nursing Student Council president, I represented all the nursing students in discussions with Dean Helen Patterson and other campus committees,” she said. “I was ‘sent’ to speak to Dean Patterson about the possibility of redesigning the pin. I was sure my nursing career was over before it began when I asked to meet with her. But being the open-minded, delightful person she was, she encouraged us to come up with a design and talk to a jeweler about the process. The beautiful symbol of the OU Seed Sower was an obvious choice. Dean Patterson approved the design, and we were the first class to wear this pin.”
Knight recalled several classmates as being instrumental in the redesigned pin and credits Chuck Reese as being the visionary for its look.
Knight said she realized early on that pediatric nursing was her calling. “Every lecture focusing on children was my favorite and I spent all my extra hours working at Children’s Hospital. Marie Mink and Betty Gorrell were wonderful professors and mentors in this area. I was given the Merrill Award for maternal-child health at graduation. I cherish that award even today.”
Proud of her OU education, Knight said that, since graduating from OU, she has always kept an active nursing license and has held many different positions, including as an ER nurse, a camp nurse, pediatric staff nurse, psychiatric nurse, school nurse, and instructor for surgical technology. For the past 14 years, Knight has worked as a contract nurse for the Temple (Texas) Independent School District Preparing Responsible Effective Parents (PREP) program, overseeing the medical care of student-parents and their babies. The program allows teen parents to get school credit for prenatal and parenting classes, while encouraging them to graduate from high school. She also works as a clinical preceptor in the School of Nursing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
“I love the idea that there is always a place for you in nursing – part time or full time. In the last few years, my nursing skills have come in very handy with elderly, sick parents and other sick friends. Many of my nursing skills have given me insight when helping to develop the Ronald McDonald House in Temple and an Alzheimer’s respite program,” she said.
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